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Psychopaths, Girardian Theory & The 180 Rule — 22 Comments

  1. Skylar, I’m so excited to read your blog. I cant wait to get into all these articles. You write so well, so truthfully, and from so many different angles that I never saw before about these sociopaths.
    The 180 rule describes them perfectly. It was all an illusion to get us so messed up and confused that they left us with our own disorder instead of just leaving us. The ultimate in cruelty.
    In the end, though, they could not have foreseen our strength and resolve to get the message out, start an informative blog like you did with profound revelations to help victims figure out the truth, and the support system put in place so together we can recover and heal and grow and come out better than ever.
    They will remain mentally ill until the day they die.
    Sky, your comments and insight on spaths have been instrumental in my journey towards recovery. The ease you have placed on my heart with your intellect, your vast knowledge on the subject, and the down-to-earth matter in which you present yourself has been my 180.
    I can honestly thank God for putting you in my life. It ALL happens for a reason. God bless you my dear.

  2. Woundlicker, thank you for your kind words. It means a lot to me to be able to share and help others to share and heal.

    The psychopaths are revealing themselves. They can’t help it, they can’t “be” any other way. Now it’s just up to us to make sure people recognize their behaviors wherever and whenever they reveal them.

  3. I have told family and acquantances about what I have learned about psychopaths and I get on the Yahoo comments when the article is clearly about spaths, too. Sometimes I get a troll reply in a negative way, but they’re probably spath’s, too.

    Being informed is the most empowering thing I could have towards healing. I was treading water for 3 years after the nightmare was over, but I still didn’t know the why’s until I was given the knowledge that he’s a sociopath. Just knowing that answered so many questions.

    Keep up the fight and the good work you are doing for all of us. I pray you get to a place of peace, Sky.

    • I’ve just noticed another correlation between what Girard wrote about the Tupinama Indians and what my ex-psychopath did. Girard says, “In short, the future victim was encouraged to violate the laws.”

      The man who died when the doors of his helicopter flew off, had recently been conned by the pity ploy, into fraudulently filling out my ex-psychopath’s log books.

      I had assumed, perhaps correctly, that the psychopath had been trying to find a way to get close to the man, so he could sabotage the helicopter doors.

      But maybe there was an additional reason as well. Maybe it was just as Girard says, “Most modern observers agree that the purpose of these indulgences was to transform the prisoner into a `scapegoat’.”

      By getting the pilot to violate the law, the psychopath was rationalizing/justifying murdering the pilot. Psychopaths know they are guilty, but they like everyone else to be guilty too.

  4. Welcome Luz Blanca. I hope that Girardian Theory can help shed some “Luz” on the experience of the psychopathic encounter.

    Once we know what they are and how they work, they can’t con us anymore, as long as we stay vigilant.

  5. Skylar, I am digging your website. Not only has your shame/slime theory personally broken something open in me, it turns out you write about other stuff that I love thinking about. I have a Classics degree but it has never occurred to me to compare any practices in primitive culture or stories of myth to psychopathy. I look forward to learning more and I’m going to pick your brain about something, too, regarding child sacrifice. You write with brain and heart, a gorgeous combination.

    The strange thing about having my eyes opened to this, is how furious it makes me. Do you get angry? I mean, it was one thing for me to be used, to be kind or nice or generous or sympathetic, and it was one thing that someone like family trained you to only serve their needs, or it is one thing that others are selfish and lazy and incompetent – all those things are crummy. But, to know that I was eating someone else shame? It makes me FURIOUS.

    You write about big things that I am exploring deeply. I will comment. But for now, hello, thank-you.

  6. Thanks parallelogram!

    Your comment about child sacrifices is interesting. I’m sure Girard has something to say since it was a common occurrence in ancient times. What I’ve noticed is that psychopaths commonly target women and children: the dis-empowered yet valued members of a community. Even female psychopaths will target those weaker than themselves.

    The other thing that psychopaths do, is to weaken their victim before finishing them off.
    So it does tie together with their need for power. I’m interested in your perspective on child sacrifice.

    I’m not sure about my anger and why I don’t seem to have very much. It may be denial on my own part. It may be because I focus on the big picture. The only thing that really “gets” me is my parental units sabotaging me from the beginning. I feel so bad for the infant that I was, so helpless and dependent. When I think of that child, I do get angry.

  7. Shld I comment differently or shld I just be aware that each page has their own comments? I’m a little dim with any sort of technical direction.

    I don’t even know where I’m going with the whole child sacrifice thing but what I was thinking about when I read about scapegoating and shame was a sentence from a Thomas Cahill book that always – who knows why – stuck with me. I read it about ten years ago. I don’t remember the book or even what the chapter was about but I know the sentence was sudden and only vaguely related to the chapter topic. He asks the reader to not be so judgemental about the very real fact of child sacrifice in primitive cultures. The whole concept makes us uncomfortable, it can`t NOT make us uncomfortable, but we shld trust and accept that child sacrifice (and human sacrifice overall, but he was talking about child sacrifice specifically) was a necessity in primitive cultures for profoundly psychological reasons we today cld just never comprehend. We may have the information, the facts as to what they wanted out of ritual sacrifice (religious, material, social), as well as your explanations, but there will always be a component to it that we just cannot understand. Sorta like “even if a lion could speak English, we still wldn’t be able to understand what he is saying.” I wonder, 1) what is the social equivalent of human sacrifice in present times? If it`s a need as old as time, how are we universally satisfying the need today? As a Christian, I can apply Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross, but a big chunk of the world doesn’t think Jesus did any such thing and does not claim “the blood of the lamb” in this same way. And 2) why do I feel like, after my psychopath experience (bf and family), that I understand the profoundly psychological reasons that Cahill said were impossible? I kinda feel like I have insight and access to an aspect of human nature that is only available to those who have been through the same thing and which cannot be understood in any other way. And so what? What does it mean for me to have this strange information? What is the point? See, it’s all vague and messy, these thoughts about it. It feels like I need to connect the thoughts to something but I don’t know what. I’m not even sure the answer I’m looking for has anything to do with the questions I’m pondering, so pls feel free to spout of in any way that is unrelated to my comment. I’m attaching significance to the child sacrifice thing only because it is unusual how often it preoccupied me over the last ten years.

    I don’t get beet-red angry when I think of it, but I am angry. When you wonder why it is that you don’t get angry and suppose it may be b/c you see the big picture, in my case I get angry b/c I am looking at the big picture. That psychopaths target the disempowered but valuable members of society, is a heart-stopping fact. I am now in the sit-up position and realize that I was one of the people in society that psychopaths (and a whole lot of others) perceived as disempowered and weak. And why wouldn`t they? I sure acted like it. I know better now.

  8. Parallelogram,
    just comment normally, as you like. I was only explaining that the other posters might not see your comments on a page for this reason, because it doesn’t show on the comment roll in the left column.

    Your thoughts on this subject are similar to mine, I think. We get it, but then it’s hard to retain the concepts in our minds because they are so…repulsive. Who would sacrifice a vulnerable infant?

    It really takes a mind that is 180 opposite of how we like to think of ourselves, to be able to see vulnerability and have that elicit murder rather than compassion.

    This can be explained in different ways and I think that they are all layers of the same mechanism.

    In Girard’s theory, the vulnerable in society are sacrificed because they belong to the group but they stand out as “other”. Children fall in this classification because they are not yet initiated into the membership.

    Sacrifice itself serves the function of restoring order in a society threatened by reciprocal violence. By sacrificing a member of the offending group, the balance is restored but reciprocal violence is cut short because the member was not a “full” member. The fact that the member is not a full member also makes him not responsible, innocent, without voice and without agency. He is powerless to reciprocate and that makes his murder a “safe murder”. It brings about catharsis and order to the murderers when they believe that the scapegoat “deserved to die”. If he didn’t deserve to die, he wouldn’t have been vulnerable to death. So there is a symbolism here about being strong. Interesting because psychopaths will always say that their victims deserved what they got for being “weak”. My own ex would say that anyone who is stupid enough to be conned, deserved it. I had no idea that he meant me and I just looked at him with a WTF? expression.

    Still, that doesn’t really explain how someone could look at an infant and want to murder. But it’s all about sacrificing in order to receive blessings or protections from the gods. It boils down to a “it’s you or me” mentality. When someone lives in perpetual fear of violence, they feel that “somebody has to die.” In fact, my friend dated a psychopath who said just that. This could very well be related to the feeling of distress people get when they are hungry. The hunter kills an animal so that he can live. He feels better once the animal is dead and his stomach is full. This cycle never stops, he always gets hungry again.

    We also know that children were eaten during times of famine. Again, it’s a matter of “us or them”. Without adults, the children would die and the tribe would die. So it made sense to eat them and have more kids during better times. Lloyd DeMause talks about this. http://www.psychohistory.com/ He’s written a lot.

    Even when people aren’t hungry, if they are living in constant fear or oppression, they are looking for scapegoats to expel the shameful feelings of powerlessness. Men abuse their wives because they can’t fight their boss at work. Then the wife abuses their children who have less power than she has. It makes one feel better to know that we are not the last person on the ladder, the one who will be chosen to die for being powerless. Though the concept isn’t foremost on someone’s mind, it certainly resides as a feeling.

    Especially when someone dies randomly, we look for reasons to make sense of the death. We try to find out why they were vulnerable and we point to that as the reason so we can feel safe. By performing a religious ritual in which vulnerability is commemorated as a sign of “deserving to die”, the community members are placed in cog/diss. First, they feel safe because it wasn’t them, they weren’t chosen and they don’t have the “mark of the victim.” Simultaneously, they are herded into conforming so that they don’t stand out and won’t get chosen.

    Psychopaths feel “chosen”. That’s why they try to blend with the herd and that’s why they try to make the rest of the herd become more like them: guilty of sin. That makes them feel safe because they won’t be abandoned in the desert, and made to pay for their sins.

    In primitive societies though, it is often the king, not the vulnerable infants, who was sacrificed. This may seem like a contradiction but it’s not. The king was also “chosen” to be responsible for his tribe. He ruled for a time and then he was sacrificed or assassinated. It may seem polar opposite to how infants are treated, but consider that infants are sometimes called “little kings” for their narcissism and are treated with care and attention. Before a king was sacrificed he was often slandered and accused. In some tribes, he was slandered, accused and abused BEFORE his ascension to the crown. It’s interesting that babies are carried and in ancient times, so were kings. Their feet weren’t supposed to touch the ground so a royal carpet was laid down.

    Ultimately, it’s about differentiating and boundaries and it’s about position and identity, which psychopaths are obsessed with. Babies are undifferentiated in every sense of the word, even in their own minds. They don’t yet have an identity and they don’t have boundaries. The chosen kings are accused of breaking taboos (crossing boundaries), marrying a sister or mother etc… which gives them more than one role (brother/husband or son/husband). This is taboo, yet it was allowed, even encouraged for the king to break the laws. Psychopaths also use many disguises, play many roles, wear many masks. They are undifferentiated, they lack identity and they know it. Borderlines express a feeling of not existing without other people around – thus the fear of abandonment since it equals loss of identity. Psychopaths seethe with envy when they see a person confident in their position and identity. It makes them aware of their own lack of “being”.

    The psychopath doesn’t want to grow up. He wants to stay an infant king, but he doesn’t want to be sacrificed or be held responsible, so he mirrors and assumes other identities to blend into society.

    Sometimes all the elements of child sacrifice are there but they might be jumbled into a different order. For a good example of that read Mark Anspach’s essay Understanding Anders Breivik. Breivik felt marginalized but he didn’t try to blend in. Instead, he tried to create scapegoats. He railed against foreigners, but ultimately sacrificed children. He wanted to polarize his own feelings of vulnerability toward others whom he felt were unfairly usurping his position in his society.

    That’s why you feel like you are talking to a lion that speaks English when you try to understand these concepts. They come from a very primitive, pre-lingual, place of fear.

    These concepts are very much like an encounter with a psychopath, because they can only be understood by feeling them, not by speaking about them. The psychopaths ability to slime us is how we feel what a lion feels. The encounter transfers all the feelings of helpless rage and fear, which we had left behind in our infancy, from the psychopath to our psyches. On the other hand, maybe it’s not a transfer as much as it is a reminder of an experience we had forgotten – our own infancy? Maybe that’s why those of us with traumatic pasts attract the psychopaths more often: They sense what they can bring out in us.

    The psychopath’s inability to bond with his mother is at the root of his fear of abandonment. Since he never got past that, he is still negotiating it every day of his life. A healthy bond creates trust and the ability to love. That’s why they say that love drives out fear.

    After I ran in fear from the psychopathic ex, I moved in with my parents. My brother, who was living there for years, told me that, “where there is love, there is no fear.” Then the next day he scratched himself, called the police and had me arrested for domestic violence. I hadn’t realized that he was seething with envy because my parents put him in a storage room for years, but gave me a bedroom with a view. So you see, psychopaths KNOW what is wrong with them. Some more than others. They don’t care. What they know is not what drives them. It’s the feeling of being marginalized that drives them. Since they feel infantile, a child is just another rival — a very vulnerable one.

    I want to emphasize though, that the psychopath doesn’t feel marginalized because he is rejected by society. He feels that way because he has rejected society, but he doesn’t see it that way, it’s never his fault. It may be possible that his psychopathy was caused by his parents rejecting him at a critical time in his infancy so that he never learned to bond. And there could be other causes too.

    Love does drive out fear. When a person loves, they could not possibly sacrifice a vulnerable person. Instead, vulnerability elicits compassion. That is why the ability to bond drives behavior that is polar opposite to a pathological person’s behavior.

    You asked if there are examples of modern day child sacrifice. There are so many, I could write a book.

    Aborted fetuses are sacrificed so that the mother won’t become marginalized in a society that marginalizes unwed mothers. Young soldiers are sacrificed in a terrorized society. They bear the burden of dying so that we don’t have to fear death or a lowered standard of living. Scapegoating is always hidden, so it’s hard to see it even when you know what to look for. Interestingly, once it’s revealed in one form, it morphs into another form so that it can continue without detection.

    Thanks for asking such an insightful question. It seems like I wrote a whole blog article about it. I might just move this to a post.

    • Please do move this to a post. Everyone should read it. I have been going over it several times and I second what parallelogram said. This stuff is profound and it answers questions I personally didn’t know how to ask.

      Thank you for revealing more truth to me.

  9. Skylar, this takes my breath away. It is the third time you have posted something that has answered or articulated something I was contemplating and trying to get to the end of earlier in the day. With your latest post it was the “safe murder” idea. I’m starting to think there’s something sibyllline going on – I write a question over and over on a piece of paper and then when I go on the computer later in the day, voila, you will have answered the question in one pretty little sentence.

    I will have to copy your post into my blackberry and re-read a few times at different points in the day in order to fully absorb and respond. It’s heavy stuff that deserves respect.

    I did NOT know that children were eating during famine.

    Also, what an a-hole thing for your brother to do. But now I know why you sound like you’ve found some peace and distance from it. In “Psychopaths Sabotage but Compassion Derails Their Plans” you write, “She asserted that it doesn’t matter what they feel it only matters how they behave because that is what affects us. Yes, evil is evil, but can our understanding of what motivates evil also change our reaction to it? Once you look behind the veil and understand that the motive for attacking is an attempt to regulate their own dysfunctional emotions, you realize it’s not really about you at all. It no longer feels so much like a narcissistic injury.” I cldn’t put into words yesterday why the revelation that I was scapegoated took the sting away from what was done and so immediately and painlessly. That sentence is why. It’s a whole new world.

    • Parallelogram, I too have gotten SO MUCH from Sky’s blog. There are some amazing people commenting here that make Sky’s great works even better.

      My serious 180 degree turn towards real healing came here. I thank God for the wonderful angels here at 180rule.

      I can tell you get it and will love being here, too. Welcome.

      Peace and love,

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